Embassies owe '£50m in C-charges'

Foreign embassies owe about £50 million in unpaid congestion charges, a group has claimed.

According to the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, the amount of unpaid congestion charges owed by embassies rose from £48.7 million to £49.4 million since the start of the year.

"The amount in unpaid congestion charges and penalty charge notices owed by embassies is now so large that it could pay for more than 260 new buses on London's streets, or fund the significant expansion of the cycle hire scheme, or alternatively reduce fare rises," said Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group.

She said the figure was "disgraceful" and "insulting" to Londoners.

Miss Pidgeon added: "It is disgraceful that £50 million is now being denied to Londoners by embassies that dodge paying the congestion charge. The small minority of embassies that think it is acceptable to evade paying the charge are insulting each and every Londoner.

"The congestion charge is exactly what its name suggests - it is a charge, not a tax. Embassies that claim that it is a tax are just clutching at poor excuses to justify their insulting behaviour."

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